By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
COPENHAGEN (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a largely flat open on Friday, as investors were wary of making any big moves ahead of retail-sales figures and consumer-sentiment data.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJZ3) gave up 4 points to 15,242. Those for the S&P 500 index (SPZ3) fell 2.2 points to 1,676.10, while futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDZ3) inched up 2.25 points to 3,171.75.
"With the Federal Reserve meeting next week to discuss potential reductions to monthly bond purchases, and with developments in Syria moving along at a snail's pace, it is understandable that investors are tempted to hold fire for the next week or so," said Max Cohen, financial sales trader at Spreadex, in a note.
U.S. stocks closed lower on Thursday as investors worried about developments related to Syria and Federal Reserve policy moves.
The subtle moves for the U.S. futures on Friday came as market participants waited for fresh data to help gauge if the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its $85-billion-a-month asset purchases after its meeting next week. The central bank has stressed it is looking to macroeconomic data to determine when to scale back its easing program and after a string of relatively upbeat releases analysts speculate the tapering process could start as early as September.
On the data calendar on Friday are retail sales for August out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect retail sales rose 0.5% last month, led by autos and consumer electronics. Somewhat higher gas prices probably were another factor.
By contrast, retail sales rose just 0.2% in July to signal that the third quarter got off to a slow start.
Later in the morning, at 9:55 a.m., the University of Michigan will release its consumer sentiment index, which economists say could fall to 81.5 from 82.1.
In other Fed-related news, a report by Japanese newspaper Nikkei, citing unnamed sources, said President Barack Obama plans to name former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as the next chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors possibly as soon as next week. The dollar (DXY) got a slight boost from the report, but pared back during early European trading hours amid some skepticism about the report.
Among companies that could move, Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. (ULTA) said late Thursday its second-quarter earnings rose to 70 cents a share from 54 cents a share in the same period a year ago. Shares of Ulta jumped more than 12% in after hours.
Analogic Corp. (ALOG) shares also gained in after-hours action on Thursday, rising about 3%, after the medical- and security-imaging company said late adjusted quarterly earnings rose 16% to $1.53 a share.
In other financial markets, European stocks traded lower, while Asia markets closed mixed. Both gold and oil were under selling pressure.
-Sara Sjolin; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
09-13-13 0559ETCopyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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